Women working in a male-dominated industry

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums GENERAL DISCUSSION Women working in a male-dominated industry

This topic contains 1 reply, has 27 voices, and was last updated by  Jay Smith 8 years, 3 months ago.

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  • #163778

    BZ Girl
    Participant

    Lately I’ve been noticing an annoying occurrence on several of the project teams I’m on. On more than one occasion, I’ve been seated at the conference table discussing a project with the entire team (architects, engineers, etc.) and i feel like my voice and opinions and suggestions are totally falling on deaf ears. More often than not, it’s when I’m working on a team that is composed primarily of middle-aged men. It didn’t occur to me until after this had happened on several different projects that perhaps i am being dismissed due to three strikes against me: i’m young, female, and a landscape architect. 

     

    This revelation totally caught me off guard. Of course, I knew when I signed up for this profession that the A&E and construction industries are typically male-dominated. But i figured, this isn’t the dark age. Women’s lib is alive and well, and women can thrive in any industry! Even my graduating class was an even 50/50 split of men and women. But after a few years in the ‘real world’, I am starting to become frustrated at what appears to be a subliminal form of discrimination!

     

    I was just curious if the other women on this forum have experienced the same. I thought, is this because I’m working in the south, where the ‘good old boy’ mentality is still prevalent? Is this just typical of ALL landscape architects when working with other A&E professionals, and not just b/c I’m a woman? Or is it due to all three factors, a triple whammy against me? I’m curious to know what others on the forum have experienced.

    #163904

    Jay Smith
    Participant

    “Lately I’ve been noticing an annoying occurrence on several of the project teams I’m on. On more than one occasion, I’ve been seated at the conference table discussing a project with the entire team (architects, engineers, etc.) and i feel like my voice and opinions and suggestions are totally falling on deaf ears”.

     

    Welcome to Landscape Architecture.  I think what you’re experiencing can be attributed more to how our profession is viewed by other disciplines, rather than a gender or regional bias.  Not saying you aren’t experiencing any gender bias, but it certainly would not be at the top of the list just going by my own experiences in this profession as a man. I’ve found with any client, it takes time to build trust and respect, especially if you’re younger than they are.  Peruse this forum enough, talk to enough male Landscape Architects, and I have no doubt you’ll find an abundance of fustrated male L.A.’s who feel your pain.

     

     

    #163903

    Andrew Garulay, RLA
    Participant

    BZ,

     

    As a middle aged male that attends a lot of meetings that are dominated in number by males and having participated in back room chatter, I do not believe that women and their input are generally treated any differently than men. I hear plenty of stereotypes about various professions or mind sets of certain companies, but I can not remember the last time I heard a stereotype of women.

     

    Even if it is true, it is a dangerous mind set for you to take the attitude that your gender is holding you back. First, if it was true, you can do nothing about it. Secondly, if it is not true, you’ll always have an excuse as to why you were unable to get your points across and be more likely to overcome challenges.

    #163902

    Tanya Olson
    Participant

    If there was truly no discrimination in landscape architecture, you would see equal numbers of female ASLA fellows, equal numbers of women in ownership, partnership and managerial roles, equal numbers of women in professorships. Women have made up half of the landscape architecture graduates for some years now (ranging between 45%-55%). We should be seeing much higher numbers. Of course our profession is also 91% white if you want to talk discrimination. You can’t examine discrimination by looking at individual attitudes, rather by the power balance and who is in a position of power and who is not.

    Sure, I’ve also worked with and heard about utter misogynists but I just chalk them up to being jerks. Thats not the type of discrimination BZ is talking about or which most women experience.

    .

    #163901

    Andrew Garulay, RLA
    Participant

    If you convince yourself that you are not a victim, there is no waiting around for intervention (that is not coming). You move forward with a more determination. That is what uncategorized people do without hesitation. They get no sympathy. They get no help. They don’t take the time to call out for it.

     

    I’m not saying that you are not a victim. All I’m saying is that believing that you are a victim (rightly or wrongly) is a bigger obstacle to your success than the people who may be ignoring you no matter their reason. Beat them or go around them, but do not hesitate and become a true victim. Don’t let yourself get absorbed by a distraction.

     

    Beat them or pass over them on your own.

     

     

     

    #163900

    Tim Zhang
    Participant

    You’re young, shoulda stopped right there. Being a female or landscape architect has nothing to do with you being dismissed. I’m in similar situations during meetings, but I don’t mind at all because if I were a 140 year old landscape architect licensed in 63 statesI wouldn’t want a kid to tell me what to do.

    #163899

    mauiBob
    Participant

    Wow! Miracles do happen! Finally, a subject Russell and I can agree on. I agree with his comments 110%. You might be living in Disneyland or Pixar Studios if you don’t think there’s discrimination of any kind in the workplace. A white man, during 95% of his life span never encounters racial discrimination…unless he is living in Hawaii. Then, he is the minority and we call him haole.

    Absolutely, women landscape architects are looked down upon. In January of 2007, the most prominent LA program in the country was under some serious scrutiny for its failure to hire women. Martha Scwartz, arguably the most prominent female landscape architect in the country, quit her adjunct position at Harvard because of the LA program’s hiring practices in regards to women. As she pointed out to the interim president and the Harvard Crimson, the program hasn’t hired a woman in a tenured position in over 100 years. “The world of architecture is still a major, major boys’ club, major, it’s an uphill battle still for women,” said Schwartz. However, let me add that the top two worst project managers I’ve ever had to work with were women. They made horrible supervisors and I couldn’t figure out how they managed to get their positions! If I knew I only had one week left to live, I would be happy to mention the names and which firm. Landscape architecture is a small profession and I might see them at the upcoming San Diego or Phoenix ASLA conference.

    There’s something to be said about age too. When I went on my first, solo 90 day maintenance period inspection many years ago, the contractors looked at me as if my company must’ve been crazy for sending a kid in this man’s world. They gave me no respect on site, but I had the last laugh. The work didn’t pass inspection and I had them replace several of the dying trees and shrubs. Several of the irrigation heads wasn’t working either and the cap on the sign wall was poorly done. Total do over!

    #163898

    Trace One
    Participant

    The inability of women to make progress in the working world is just so – weird – I sometimes really am looking for a new paradigm to understand it..everything has been recorded, documented, and written about for forty years, it seems to me, and there is just some kind of – something – that cannot be moved..

    I geuss progress is slow, the wheels of justice grind slowly, etc..it was just in 2009 that Obama signed the Lucy Ledbetter rule, and we have yet to go anywhere with the ERA..

    I think women also can stab each other in the back, perhaps more than men..Once having attained responsiblity, she doesn’t want anyone else there?

    I don’t know..It is all so cliche..

    Andrew G. it is worth looking at discrimination – you can’t just ignore it, or you will truely be blaming yourself..It’s part of ju jitsu with an oponent – one has to understand them..But I also agree, it is more interesting to focus on the work, than on the human interactions…

     

     

     

     

    oiotte, 

    #163897

    Trace One
    Participant

    sorry, wanted to add – a friend of mine posted this FB thing a few weeks ago – typical FB, “List your top ten favorite guitarists, in two minutes,” or something like that…Easy, right? Eric Clapton, Christopher Parkening, Jeff Beck, etc.

    Now have that list include even one woman..It’s a stretch…

    So what is up with that?

    #163896

    BZ Girl
    Participant

    Yeah, doing punch lists on a new construction job is always interesting. In the five years i’ve been working, only ONCE have i encountered another female on site. Sometimes the superintendent listens to me and takes my comments seriously and responds, sometimes they don’t. I’ve never experienced any blatantly obvious discrimination- no one has smacked me on my a$$ and told me to get back in the kitchen. It’s more just an underlying sense of not being taken seriously.

     

    Don’t get me wrong- i’m NOT claiming to be a victim. I’m not going to let some real or perceived issue stop me from doing what i need to do. I find a way to work around them. Case in point- after one meeting, i told my boss about the comments and suggestions i’d made, and how the client (architect) and other team members totally dismissed them. I asked him to send a memo to the team reaffirming the suggestions i’d made. All of a sudden, the client was like ‘yeah, ok, that might be a good idea.’ My coworker Beth said she has encountered the same situations, and taken the same course of action. We’ve both learned that certain clients just won’t listen to us, no matter what we say; it has to come from the bossman. Whether that respect is due to his age or reputation or just being a ‘good old boy’, i don’t know. But at least Beth and I have figured out a way to work around the dismissers! And one day, when I own my own firm, you better believe i’m taking notes about who i like to work with and who i don’t….which clients value my time and expertise, and which ones don’t. It’s all part of a preparation process that will be valuable some day!

    #163895

    Andrew Garulay, RLA
    Participant

    The question is not whether or not discrimination exists – and it exists everywhere to one degree or another. The question is what is the next course of action.

     

    Discrimination is usually subtle and hard to decipher. That makes it very difficult to prove. It also is very easy to believe that any bump in the road is attributable to discrimination simply because it is hard to decipher.

     

    Do you go for a law suit? Do you complain to others involved in the project? Do you go to Facebook? Is any of that going to help your situation? No. It might get you sympathy, empathy, and stir people up, but in the end when you are sitting at a table surrounded by these people how are you going to be heard? There are two options – remove the obstacle or overcome it.

     

    The only fact that can be found in this thread is that BZ does not believe she is respected in the work place. The reasons why are assumptions. They may or may not be true. The focus of effort to resolve the problem should be to do everything she can to gain respect in the work place in every way possible. Everything else is like attacking windmills – they simply don’t change the fundamental problem that this individual is not feel respected professionally.

     

    I find it hard to believe that every man in that room has no respect for each and every woman that they have ever worked with. That is an absurd assumption to me, but without that assumption there is only one course of action. That is to be a high performance employee, to understand the philosophy of the office, the goals of the office, and to adopt their reasoning and methods. There are many business models out there and many really good ideas are great in one and do not fit another. If anyone is not on the same page with that, they will not be listened to and respected until they are on the same page.

     

    Moving forward involves eliminating other factors that may cause one to not be respected. The only way to do that is adapting to the ways of that office and performing toward those goals with a lot of effort. If that does not work, you can then have more reason to believe that it is gender.

     

    So where do you draw the line of dignity? At what point do you say, NO i will not be a doormat and allow myself to be blatantly trampled on all for the sake of the sacred cow, the ever-coveted ‘at least you have a job’? At what point do you stand up for yourself and your self respect? Or should i just lay down like a good little doormat and take it, because after all, at least i have a job?  From BZ in the “crappy job” thread.

     

    Does this sound like someone who is looking to fit in and work hard to gain respect? It does not sound that way to me, but I may be genderphobic and not know it.

     

    Throughout the history of the world removal of this obstacle (discrimination) has never been done. The only alternative is to overcome it.  

    #163894

    BZ Girl
    Participant

    So where do you draw the line of dignity? At what point do you say, NO i will not be a doormat and allow myself to be blatantly trampled on all for the sake of the sacred cow, the ever-coveted ‘at least you have a job’? At what point do you stand up for yourself and your self respect? Or should i just lay down like a good little doormat and take it, because after all, at least i have a job?  From BZ in the “crappy job” thread.

     

    Does this sound like someone who is looking to fit in and work hard to gain respect? It does not sound that way to me, but I may be genderphobic and not know it.

     

    I beg to differ. I think it proves that i’m NOT going to be someone who allows herself to be trampled on, whether by crappy office management or discriminatory(?) team members.

    #163893

    Jay Smith
    Participant

    Case in point- after one meeting, i told my boss about the comments and suggestions i’d made, and how the client (architect) and other team members totally dismissed them. I asked him to send a memo to the team reaffirming the suggestions i’d made. All of a sudden, the client was like ‘yeah, ok, that might be a good idea.’ My coworker Beth said she has encountered the same situations, and taken the same course of action. We’ve both learned that certain clients just won’t listen to us, no matter what we say; it has to come from the bossman.

     

    You just described a scenario that I have experienced as a male Landscape Architect hundreds of times in my first several years in the profession.  And I certainly don’t mean to make light of gender discrimation, as I’m sure it exists, but when this happens to me, I cannot blame it on gender or race.  I stopped counting the amount of times myself or my fellow lower level associates would have a fustrated client/architect on the phone, only to have my boss or other higher management person step in and appease them by offerering the exact same information.  It takes time to develop respect and trust.  I would bet that youth and your L.A. title are working against you more so than your gender.  By the way, I’ve been hired by and worked for three female L.A.’s so far, and they were very respected, effective leaders.

     

     

     

    #163892

    Andrew Garulay, RLA
    Participant

    Then you’ll be all set. It also sounds like you did get your ideas across through another means. That is overcoming the obstacles.

    #163891

    Heather Smith
    Participant

    I don’t have professional experience but will say that I had a couple professors that would give females in studio a B grade when their work was obviously better then the males that received A’s. We noticed it but what were we going to do? I can think of one female classmate in particular that was very engineering minded and blew everyone away in studio with her grading/drainage project…yep she got a B while some schmuck she helped got an A. Crazy.

    I don’t know what we do? But I will say this:

    “I think women also can stab each other in the back, perhaps more than men..Once having attained responsiblity, she doesn’t want anyone else there?”

    Rubbed me the wrong way. Thank you again for stereotyping women in a way that a man wouldn’t be. A woman is a bitch for being aggressive whereas aggression is viewed as a positive when it pertains to a man’s behavior.

    BZ, I suppose one way around this is to make them think it was their idea…haha.

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